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Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):671-83. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X12500504.

Self-reported knowledge and approaches toward complementary and alternative medicine among physicians dealing with allergic diseases.

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Department of Chest Diseases, Ankara Atatürk Education and Research Hospital, Turkey.


Considering the popularity of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in allergic patients, physicians involved in allergic patients' care need to be aware of CAM. To assess self-reported knowledge, attitude and approach to CAM of physicians who deal with allergic patients, a total of 500 structured questionnaires were distributed to physicians who participated in "Turkish National Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress-2009". For the questionnaires handed out, 242 (48.4%) physicians (median age 36.0 years, range 25-64 years) responded; 22.4% were fellows in training and 48.5% were residents. The main specialties were pediatrics (49.3%), and pulmonology (36.8%); half were either specialists or training in allergy and one-quarter (25.6%) referred patients to CAM. Asthma (42.1%) and chronic urticaria (28.9%) were the most common CAM referral diseases. Referred therapies were herbal (10.3%) and diet-based medicine (7.4%). The differences between physicians in terms of age, gender, experience in medicine, and specialty/allergy subspecialty were not statistically significant (p = 0.01). Affiliation to a university hospital was significantly associated with no CAM referral vs. affiliation in a state/private hospital or private practice. Academic degree and reported level of knowledge negatively/positively affected attitudes toward CAM, respectively. More than half of the respondents (68.8%) reported lack of or insufficient information about CAM, while 58.7% of physicians desired CAM education. This first report on physicians involved in allergic patients' care shows that they are reluctant to refer for CAM therapies. A minority believes that they have enough knowledge, and most are interested in continuing medical education on CAM. Considering physicians' interest and tendency to communicate significantly with their patients about CAM when they feel that they have sufficient knowledge and popularity of CAM among patients, training possibilities should be created to improve physicians' education in this field.

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